You may have heard of it, but what is customer retention? For one, it’s not a new form of marketing, although it has been making the rounds recently because brands are finally realising that acquisition may have its place, but retention’s where it’s at. In essence, the gist of customer retention marketing is focusing on your existing customer base and turning them into repeat customers. You want to increase customer value, and one of the best ways of doing this is by increasing the frequency of purchase and the average order volume per purchase.
As Alex McEachern, Head of Marketing at Smile.io, puts it, retention marketing includes
[t]he activities a store uses to increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing again, while focusing on increasing the profitability of each repeat purchase.
The problem comes from the common belief that, if you offer wonderful products or services, customers will always come back to you. Sure, in some cases this is true, but the reality is that it’s an ongoing relationship that needs to be worked on from time to time. After all, why would they return if you’re not offering them anything of value?
That’s what customer retention tactics do; they create engaged customers that keep coming back for more. As to the how, if you want to find ways to retain customers, you have to think like creative agency and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would push you to make a repeat purchase? Why would you go back to one brand instead of going to another? Answer that and you’ll have a couple of retention marketing strategies in place. Thankfully for you, like the good eCommerce agency we are, we compiled five customer retention examples you can start using right away.
1. Champion a Cause
Any creative agency knows that, as a brand, your premier tactic for fostering loyalty is to champion a cause. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean revolving your whole marketing efforts around a specific message, rather it’s integrating it with your brand’s mission and showing your customer’s that you’re not just a faceless corporation who’s only interested in profits. It boils down to two things:
- Consumers today are more focused on altruism and bettering the world we live in than ever before.
- While most people like the idea of giving to charity, they stop short when it falls on their own shoulders to do the giving.
That’s where you come in. By combining entrepreneurship with philanthropy, you’re not only improving your company’s image, but its bottom line as well. For example, a fan favourite customer retention marketing campaign was Toms’ “One for One” policy, in which they donated a pair of shoes to people in need whenever a shoe purchase was made. In doing so, their customers felt like they did a good thing, even though they really only bought a pair of shoes.
2. Provide Convenience
If championing a cause doesn’t bring back customers, providing convenience surely will. Look at it this way, if your customers can get the same products or services from you and your competition, the tipping point will come from what will be easiest for them. In other words, to whomever makes their shopping experience as fast and seamless as possible. This, of course, depends on what your business sells, but at the bottom of providing convenience is knowing what your customers want.
For example, knowing that when coffee drinkers need a caffeine fix, they need it now rather than later, Starbucks introduced a mobile order and pay feature within their mobile app that allowed customers to order coffee before even stepping foot in their stores. All they had to do was place an order, walk in and pick up — all without wasting a single second waiting in line.
3. Create a Loyalty Program
Along the same lines as convenience, creating a loyalty program is a favorite go-to retention marketing strategy for brands across the board. Whether it’s through discounts, premium services or points that can be exchanged for merchandise, offering a loyalty program incentivises your customers to keep coming back to you time and time again. In doing so, you’re essentially encouraging them to make an investment and keep growing it if they want to get bigger and better rewards; if they want to earn more, they have to buy more.
For a similar approach that brings back customers AND creates new ones, offer a bonus for referrals that rewards both the referrer and person being referred, thereby creating a profitable exchange for all parties involved, including you.
4. Offer Discounts to First-Time Customers
According to Marketwired, once a customer comes back for a second purchase, they have a 54% chance of doing so again. So, what can you do to turn first-time customers into second-time customers? Offer them a discount. One of the biggest motivators behind a decision to buy something is knowing that you’re getting the best deal possible, and by sending first-time customers a follow up email with a discount toward something else — maybe something that pairs well with the first purchase — you’ll solidify the belief that that’s exactly what they’re getting.
5. Distinguish Yourself from the Competition
The crux of customer retention is for your existing customers to go back to you rather than a competitor. Apart from everything we’ve covered today, a very easy way of doing this is by distinguishing yourself from your competition. You have to show your audience that you’re not only the best option to go to for one purchase, but also all purchases afterward. To accomplish this, stick true to who and what you are as a brand and show them why they chose you in the first place — what can you offer that others can’t?
For example, Apple had a “Mac vs. PC” ad campaign a while back that was made specifically to distinguish them from PCs by identifying the type of consumer who would opt to buy an Apple computer. The ads were smart and humorous, and worked well to paint their products in a good light.
At the end of the day, finding new ways to increase revenue is always at the top of a brand’s to-do list. When it comes to the how, many place too much focus on acquisition rather than retention; a mistake that overlooks the fact that existing customers are exactly that, existing customers. What you have to do is remember that they already came to you before, so why shouldn’t they do so again? Show them why they chose you in the first place by doing what we covered today:
- Champion a Cause
- Provide Convenience
- Create a Loyalty and Referral Program
- Offer Discounts to First-Time Customers
- Distinguish Yourself from the Competition
If you’re still in doubt that retaining existing customers is the move to make, remember what Neil Patel has to say about loyalty: “Loyalty is important because it’s easier and less expensive to market to your current customers as opposed to acquiring new ones.”